Q: “I’ve been racing in endurance races lately, and have had more than my share of close calls, and even a couple of car-to-car contacts. One of the close calls was when another car dive bombed me, and one when I was trying to out-brake another car. Is there a rule or guideline as to who owns a corner when two cars are going into it together?”
A: No one owns a corner, as far as I’m concerned. Racing is about compromises, respect for one another, and knowing when to back off to fight another day.
Different race series and organizations have different rules, which is why it’s important to know them. Read the rules books and supplemental regulations, attend driver’s meetings, and ask questions.
Many race series and organizations have a rule or guideline that says something about the passing car being responsible for making a safe pass. I think this causes problems, as it creates a mindset for drivers being passed that they don’t have any responsibility when going into a corner with another car that’s attempting an overtake. And that’s a problem.
A better rule/guideline, and one that more and more organizations are adopting, is that both drivers are responsible. In this way, the responsible parties have been doubled, which means that it’s twice as likely that there will be safe passes. If you race with this mindset, things will go better.
So, who has “control” of a corner? If the overtaking car is on the inside when in the brake zone, and has its nose at least even with the driver of the other car — and ideally further up alongside than that, to around the front wheels of the other car — that overtaking driver “controls” the corner. By “control,” I mean that it’s in a position where the other driver should see it, and can’t do much other than fall in behind it. “Control” is not a rules things, it’s a positional thing. I don’t care what the rules say, if the driver of the overtaking car positions itself so the other driver sees it, and has its nose at least equal to the driver or further up alongside before the turn-in point, then it’s in a position where the driver being passed doesn’t have an option — they have to fall in behind (or try to stay with the other car by going around the outside, which very rarely ever works).
If the overtaking driver doesn’t get far enough alongside — its nose behind the middle of the other car —then it’s in “no man’s land,” and the likelihood of contact was gone way up. In this case, it’s unclear who is in position to lead through the corner.
Of course, with both cars at speed, the space between them is a moving target, and it’s difficult for either driver to be super accurate with judging whether the passing car is far enough up alongside the other car to control the corner. That’s why contact happens between cars — it relies on two drivers traveling at speed while controlling their cars at the limit to accurately judge the positioning. That’s why I say racing takes compromises and smart decisions.
Never forget that you may know, buy into, and follow what I’m saying here. You may know the rules and guidelines of the race series/organization you’re competing with. But the other driver you’re either passing, or is passing you, may not! You have to assume they don’t, and expect the worst.
To answer your question as simply as possible, no one “owns” a corner, and you should be prepared for other drivers to not play by the rules, written or unwritten. Remember, racing clean is what our sport should be all about.
What I’ve said here is just the beginning of what racecraft and race etiquette is all about. This is a huge topic — I did an entire webinar on racecraft (and will again in the future) that lasted more than a couple of hours. But I think if you keep in mind that no one owns a corner, you’re on the right track (no pun intended).
Randy Pobst for SCCA did a nice video on the subject, and has a similar view as Ross outlines. In VARA both are responsible as you note and our rules reenforce that, in that in case on contact, both drivers must report to black flag immediately, and are retired to begin the investigation into the incident. One will usually be declared primary and another secondary at fault, but there is no “racing incidents” – its both their responsibility in an organization where contact is not allowed.
I truly believe and have followed this all my racing self supported career, I pay to fix my car… no one else, if I am ever going to be that stupid to destroy my car for a position … because that was my spot…. I guess that explains the rule of competition.
Agreed, and it does seem that some drivers either don’t have to pay for car damage, or they don’t think about it at the time.
Hi there, great answer to the who “owns” the corner question!
My question is, well actually, I was wondering what your opinion is, about being more important, a really good race car with a not so good driver, or having a really good driver in a not so good car!?
Good question… but it’s a bit like asking if I’d rather have a heart or a brain. 🙂 But if I had to pick, I’d take a good driver over a good car. There are many examples of great drivers making up for a mediocre car. And I guess there are examples of mediocre drivers winning in great cars, too, so yeah… heart or brain? 🙂
Thank goodness for iRacing; at least for me, without simulations, I could never afford the learning curve of mistakes and lessons it and other live sims provide.
No, it is not the same as real seat time, but one thing peer-to-peer simulation irrefutably teaches (if you pay attention) is awareness and how to anticipate other drivers.
If you do it long enough, you learn which drivers bully their way, and while they may win a few more races than you that way, they also see a lot of DNF’s from needless crashes.
Rarely would I find myself the outright fastest car/driver in a race, but rarely did I dnf, and overall, compared to the “I own this corner” drivers, the long-term result was higher finishes, and yes, wins.
Expect the driver you can see moving to get beside you entering a corner to believe they own the corner, and be prepared to give more than take and likely, you will be making an easy pass on them later as they and the next person they encountered that did not share your approach spin off course.
Of course, the longer the race goes, the less the conservative approach pays off. Sometimes you need to stay in the mix to demand proof of the ownership they claim.
Great stuff, Bob! Agreed! And this an area where sim racing really pays of for those who race in the non-digital world.